"Where does Chicago get all that meat?Not every Super Hero has a headquarters; some of them don't seem to even have an apartment. But for those who do, there is a compulsion to ask, "Where did all this stuff come from?" Where are the architects, the carpenters, the masons, the cablers, the plumbers, the electricians, the welders, the tailors? And how much did it cost to hire them all? It's especially likely to be asked if the character in question doesn't have magical powers or super abilities that would enable them to believably carve out the insides of a mountain for a secret hideout with their own bare hands and a spare weekend. Sometimes, this question is just left up in the air, with the writers hoping it'll stay as Fridge Logic. Other times, they take it head-on, providing an in-character source — often, an Acme Products company or a single person who makes it their business to outfit heroes and/or villains. Ideally, use the Applied Phlebotinum on screen for verisimilitude. See also Infinite Supplies, Off Screen Villain Dark Matter, Homemade Inventions. We also sell some of our own. Not to be confused with How Can Santa Deliver All Those Toys?.
How does Venezuela get all their heat?
And where does Adidas find all their feet?
You'd like to know the answers now, well wouldn't you boys?
So tell me where does he get all those wonderful toys?
How does Venezuela get all their heat?
And where does Adidas find all their feet?
You'd like to know the answers now, well wouldn't you boys?
So tell me where does he get all those wonderful toys?
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- Somewhat spoofed in a Volvo C70 commercial tying in with the 1997 Saint film-upon repairing Simon Templar's car, someone says "Mr. Templar, we have to wonder about your lifestyle".
Anime & Manga
- Subverted in The Big O — when Big O is badly damaged in the second season, we see Roger's butler Norman simply open a back door to Roger's lair and let in a full troop of workers who promptly set about repairing the giant robot, and who vanish back into the night when their work is done. Judging from comments made by several of the workers, this isn't the first time it's happened, either.
- Code Geass: Lelouch Geasses people into making/storing/etc. his stuff. Since part of his Magical Eye is that they forget his orders, it's a fairly good deal. Anything he can't get with his Geass, he gets with his silver tongue.
- Bubble Gum Crisis is a one of the early examples. Sylia's "Silky Doll" lingerie shop and Dr. Raven's garage are fine, but it still doesn't explain where she gets the money and supplies for all that Knight Sabers business. In all faith, she really couldn't have built all that stuff in her shop, it's simply not that big. Fanon half-jokingly explains it by the fact that she's a Genom shareholder, and simply uses the company's coffers and plants, as well as consistently voting against taking any measures about Knight Sabers at any occasion.
- Hellsing has a pretty good example of this, what with Alucard using custom made big bore Bottomless Magazines pistols and Seras Victoria using a frickin' BFG Taken Up To Eleven! And all supplied by the Battle Butler Walter... but it is implied that Doc and Millennium had a hand in their creation.
- The Magdalan Order in Chrono Crusade has its own R&D department to make wonderful toys for them. The only named member of this unit is Edgar Hamilton, more commonly known as The Elder.
- Fullmetal Alchemist - Where does Roy Mustang get an armored truck full of wonderful toys in the middle of a locked-down city? Why, from Jean Havoc
- Space Angels in Gunnm: Last Order should've realistically survived only because they're Cyborgs — they often don't have money for food, but they still maintain a competitive Z.O.T.T. team, and most of their fighters have state-of-the-art bodies (or, in case of Zazie, equipment). It's somewhat justified by the fact that Desty Nova and Yani, who are quite well-off, use them as testbeds for their theories and prototypes, and they receive donations from their fans. They have also gotten the support of the Martian Kingdom, which, however poor, still amounts for something.
- The titular character of Serial Experiments Lain. Where does an eighth-grader get thousands of dollars worth of computer equipment (all Mac) indeed? It's implied to be from her father, who works with computers, but it's not like her parents are incredibly wealthy or anything.
- Subverted with Puella Magi Madoka Magica: local lead dealer Homura fills her arsenal to the brim first by cooking up her own bombs, then steals guns from the Yakuza and in late timelines from military arsenals.
- Elinalise of Mushoku Tensei has a very large supply of rare and valuable magic stones despite not visiting labyrinths much recently. It is eventually explained that part of her curse is giving "birth" to a magic stone during her period, and has been doing so for two centuries.
- Batman in nearly any incarnation: The Batcave is furnished with the latest science and computer equipment; plus the secret passages leading to it from Wayne Manor... and yet, no one seems to know about, much less have participated in, the planning and labor that went into all this stuff! Sure, Alfred may dust and tinker on gadgets, but being the Wayne caretaker surely doesn't give him time for Research and Development while Master Bruce is batting about.
- Batman comics:
- Writer Denny O'Neil may have been the first comics scripter to work this into a storyline. During his initial encounter with Ra's al Ghul (Batman #232, 1971), Bruce Wayne is surprised by Ra's in the Batcave. He attempts to bluff it off until Ra's reminds him that someone had to buy the materials for the Batman's various gadgets... and that "someone" could be traced. Wayne concedes the point and removes his cowl to address Ra's man-to-man.
- The comics have also established that since Bruce Wayne owns Wayne Enterprises, he depends on Lucius Fox to make the money to pay for his operations while diverting useful materials from his business as needed.
- Played with in a storyline where a foreign conglomerate had managed, through various financial tricks and wizardry, to buy out the independent companies which comprised Wayne Enterprise's R&D division right out from under Lucius and Bruce's noses. Actually, it was revealed that Jason Todd orchestrated the whole thing. Along with the rather serious implications for Wayne Enterprises as a business, Bruce later reflects on the implications for Batman. He mentions several unique items used by Batman, saying that eventually those items will be made available in the public sector, while he will have no further access to new gadgets other than those he can create himself in his spare time. After Alfred remarks that he thinks that Batman has more than enough toys to last him for quite awhile, Bruce brings up the additional worry that someone will notice that Batman has been and is still using Wayne Enterprises proprietary technology and begin to put two and two together.
- In one of the Batman novels, it was stated that the Batcave was built by (well-paid) foreign workers, secretly assembled and transported to Gotham, who only worked outside the cave at night, never saw Bruce Wayne, and were flown home again, all without them having any idea where in the world they had been working.
- A song with this trope's title actually appears in the demo recording of Jim Steinman's Batman musical.
- Since Bruce Wayne's return from the events of Final Crisis, Bruce has publicly gone on record saying that Wayne Enterprises has been funding Batman's war on crime through his gear and has created a new organization: Batman Incorporated.
- One could just as easily apply this question to many of Batman's villains, most notably the Penguin and The Joker. The Penguin is widely known for his use of trick umbrellas, while the Joker has used everything from acid-squirting flowers to electrified joybuzzers to razor-sharp playing cards.
- The Dark Knight Saga:
- Batman Begins has the various gadgets as "dead end" offshoots of WayneTech R&D, donated by Lucius Fox, one of the few board members to remain loyal to Bruce during his overseas trip.
- Subverted in The Dark Knight when an accountant that works for Wayne actually does notice that company property is missing and discovers to the blueprints to the Batmobile. However, Fox manages to convince him to stay quiet about it.
"Let me get this straight: You think that your client, one of the wealthiest, most powerful men in the world, is secretly a vigilante who spends his nights beating criminals to a pulp with his bare hands. And your plan is to blackmail this person? Good luck."
- In The Dark Knight Rises, Bane breaks into Wayne Enterprises and steals everything except The Bat. And then it turns out the whole first half of the movie was a plot to get his hands on Wayne Enterprises' experimental reactor so he could turn it into a nuclear bomb. Of course, given his resources, he could've just smuggled his own conventional nuke in, but the whole purpose of using the reactor was revenge.
- Batman: The Animated Series:
- The show introduces the character of Earl Cooper, the Batmobile's designer/mechanic who performs the necessary repairs that are beyond Batman's time or ability. The Penguin is able to find Cooper after he orders a series of dead-giveaway parts that could only be for the Batmobile, in his own name. Batman responds by having his "... backers" set up "dummy corporations" for Cooper to order from so that no one will track him down again. This is probably just a euphemism for hiding more crimefighting behind Wayne Enterprises expenditures.
- In "Under the Hood" it's made pretty certain that most of his stuff is attained through WayneTech's various R&D and subcompanies, thus allowing him to get power bombs, chemicals and gadget even before the military gets their hands on them.
- The Trope Namer is The Joker in Tim Burton's Batman. In one scene Batman rescues reporter Vicki Vale from the Joker's clutches using a zipline gun, and the Joker asks his men "Where does he get those wonderful toys?" Used again later on when Batman uses the Batwing to steal all his poison-filled balloons, causing the Joker to scream why nobody told him he had one of those things... only to later shoot it down with a four foot long revolver.
- The Riddler has a whole freaking island fortress in Batman Forever. Assuming he had the foresight to commission this building project before he lost his scientist job, it still begs the "who built it" question.
- In Batman: Arkham Asylum, one of Riddler's patient session recordings has him ranting about Batman, and how he could possibly finance his operation. He quite wrongly assumes that he steals from villains he stops, and uses this to back his argument that Batman is the worst criminal of all. There is a minor explanation given in a chat with Oracle as to how Batman got a backup Batcave onto Arkham Island, but its security is notoriously lax.
- And the variety of the Joker's toys are given something of a lampshade in Batman: Arkham Knight; when Batman enters the Evidence room in the GCPD, the Joker hallucination can be found looking at his own display case, lamenting that he can't use any of his gadgets because "do you know how long it takes to make exploding chattering teeth?!"
- Again with the Joker in LEGO Batman 2, after Batman defeats him in the beginning. Subverted somewhat as the wonderful toy in question (the Batwing) was not used to defeat him as soon as they entered the parking lot.
Joker: Where DOES he get these unbreakable toys?!
- The Batman:
- D.A.V.E, an A.I composed of various criminal personalities, managed to figure out Batman's identity. One of the factors he mentioned that he used to narrow down the population was the wealth and resource capacity needed to create all the equipment the Batman used. Further data he uses is age, gender, and people who'd have a motivation. This is the same method used by Bane in Knightfall.
- One episode featured a politician who used his wealth to build a giant ship to forcibly take over Gotham. Someone remarked that only someone as rich as him could get all those toys. One then wonders how that remarker didn't connect Batman to Bruce Wayne after making that statement.
- Lampshaded in Batman: The Brave and the Bold by The Music Meister:
- Music Meister: His utility belt holds everything, can't find that at the mall!
- Egghead from Adam West's Batman used this as a clue when he tried to determine Batman's secret identity; he believes Batman must be rich because crime fighting is a very expensive hobby.
- In the Teen Titans comics, Robin was able to get a Batmobile shipped to San Francisco by hiding it in the Batarang budget◊. (It's bigger than you'd think.) And he would've gotten away with it too if not for Kid Flash...
Other Comic Books
- The Flash v1 #141, published in the Silver Age, introduced tailor Paul Gambi, who made the costumes for all the villains in the Flash's Rogues Gallery; Gambi has continued to make appearances in this role.
- In the early years, there was a recurring character called "The Tinkerer" who was allegedly the source of much villainous gadgetry. In Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 The Tinkerer is a major villain, both empowering a bunch of C list Supervillains like Electro to become actual threats and allying himself with the Hive Mind of Nanites that appear later on.
- Spider-Man himself built his web-shooters using parts he... scavenged... from his high school science lab.
- Ultimate Spider-Man adapted them from devices he inherited from his scientist father's work on polymers. His costume was given to him by his wrestling company. When Peter and Mary Jane broke up, he had no-one to repair his costume or make him a new one, leading him to asking various heroes and villains whenever he ran into them where they got their costumes made.
- In the '80s cartoon Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, it's explained that the Ordinary High-School Student is able to afford this stuff because they saved Tony Stark once and he keeps them hooked up.
- On a related issue, in the Marvel Universe there is a firm named Damage Control, which has a contract with New York City to handle the cleanup and repairs following the many superhero battles which take place there. Leftover superweapons, battlesuits, and whatnot end up in Damage Control's "Lost and Found" department...
- Ultimate X-Men shows Xavier hiring a construction crew, but clouding their minds so that they cannot see the students.
- During J. Michael Straczynski's run, Spider-Man met Leo Zelinsky, a tailor in a run-down neighborhood in Queens ("What they call a 'neighborhood in transition',") who was visited by The Thing, who needed a new pair of briefs after an altercation with a fire-wielding villain. Thanks largely to word of mouth, he became the go-to guy for superhero (and some supervillain) costume needs.
- He's very careful to arrange heroes and villains on different days, so his shop doesn't become the site of a superhero battle.
- There was a story arc in the Deadpool comic, "Johnny Handsome", where Deadpool not only managed to enrage Loki enough to have his scarred face turned into a permanent Tom Cruise likeness (which led to several cases of mistaken identity later on), but also lost his costume, had to order a new one to be made and, for the duration of most of the arc, wore a mish-mash assortment of other characters' costumes (including Wolverine's pants and boots, Spider-Man's shirt and Dr. Octopus's arms).
- For health issues in the Marvel Universe, there's the Night Nurse, who will patch up any injured do-gooder who stumbles into her clinic, thus explaining where a lot of superheroes get their medical care without compromising their secret identities.
- Along the same lines, the Nomad series introduced the Undergrounders, who provided discreet medical care to those on the fringes of society.
- There was an old Spider-Man comic where the titular hero was committed to hospital after several fractured bones. They never removed his suit while tending him! One nurse actually speculated whether the suit was sewn right on his skin. One has to only wonder if there's an anonymous medical insurance specifically aimed at superheroes.
- In a Pre-Civil War Spider-Man arc when Spidey gets hospitalized by Electro and Vulture, the hospital staff remove his mask to treat him, but also mention a specific rule for super-people, "We sign them in under an assumed name and have a hospital-wide media blackout." This was unfortunately foiled by a photographer who let on about the hospital's location, allowing Vulture to kidnap Peter, fly him 300 feet up, rip his bandages off, and disgustedly drop him after realizing that Peter was "a nobody".
- An X-Men character, Dr. Cecilia Reyes, was a mutant who briefly worked with the X-Men during the Zero Tolerance arc, and later on settled down as a private doctor offering anonymity to her powered patients. The list of her patients, aside from several X-Men and former X-men, also included Spider-Man and Daredevil.
- Disney Mouse and Duck Comics:
- In the Italian Disney Comics, Donald Duck has a superheroic identity known as Paperinik: he originally acquired his costume and his first weapons from the heirloom of Gentleman Thief Fantomius (an obvious reference to Allain and Souvestre's Fantomas), then shared his secret with Duckburg's inventor extraordinaire Gyro Gearloose, who since then mantained his armory of less-than-lethal supergadgets. The "Ultimates version" of Paperinik New Adventures has him acquire a slew of much more powerful weapons and a Batman-esque lair from the possessions of mysterious billionaire Everett Ducklair (the authors publicly stated that they aimed to make a very explicit parody of and homage to American comic books).
- Also addressed with Fantomius himself: many, in-universe, had wondered this, and an in-universe novelist speculated Fantomius himself built them (and paid for it with his enormous wealth, as he was legitimately rich on his own), but it was ultimately shown he employed a Gadgeteer Genius, namely Gyro's great-grandfather.
- In the Batman mini-series Batman Family, we were introduced to the Technician, an inventor who specialises in supplying high-tech gizmos to Gotham City's supervillains, including things such as a giant clockwork monkey.
- In the 80s-90s Uncanny X-Men comic, the Mansion was equipped with Shi'ar technology from Xavier's lover, Majestrix Lilandra. The alien tech has rebuilt the mansion on the [frequent] occasion of its destruction. Damage Control also showed up a time or two.
- Averted for Superman. He did all his own work on the Fortress of Solitude. If he got lazy, his army of super-powered robot doubles could take up the slack just fine. And the movies, some prose stories and Smallville just have his fortress and costume provided courtesy of Kryptonian techno-magic. For everything else, he's stuck with Earth goods — which may explain the cheapjack cellophane S "weapon" he uses in Superman II.
- In the Marvel Universe, some criminals buy their equipment from the Tinkerer, as mentioned above. Others get their equipment furnished by their employers (Iron Man's enemy Justin Hammer often had his scientists construct specialized weapons for the supervillains he recruited), and at least one large company runs a highly profitable black market operation in selling deadly weapons and other equipment through the "Sharper Villain Catalogue." Even Hawkeye used to hit up the Tinkerer for Trick Arrows back when he was first starting out, often using money he'd stolen from drug dealers.
- The Punisher gets most of his weapons from the criminals that he kills. Or buys top of the line black-market military hardware, using money he gets from the criminals that he kills. He also had, for a long time, a weapons supplier/inventor named Microchip, who helped him get "special" equipment to go up against supervillains... that he kills. Later comics have been showing that Punisher has been receiving equipment and information through various armed forces friends/sympathizers who can doctor supply records.
- Dan Dreiberg (Nite Owl II from Watchmen) is a Gadgeteer Genius/Rich Idiot with No Day Job, and thus makes his own wonderful toys. He also made Rorschach's grappling gun, explaining how the vagabond had such a good gadget.
- Although an official policeman anyway, Dick Tracy did not get his two-way wrist radio (introduced in 1946) from the government, but from industrialist "Diet" Smith. Other than that, Tracy has relied on conventional weapons common to normal police forces, such as the night sight.
- Though he only appeared in one issue, Astro City has (had?) The Assemblyman, who apparently built weapons and gadgets for anyone with the cash. He was contracted by El Hombre to manufacture a rampaging robot for the hero to defeat in a staged fight. El Hombre's reputation was ruined when the city-smashing robot was backtraced to him.
- The Justice Society of America has its medical personnel as key members of the team—Dr. Mid-Nite (a trained physician) and Mr. Terrific (who has PhDs in everything). They also provide medical services to other DC superheroes and their spouses, such as when Lois Lane was nearly killed.
- The Omega Sector of The Mighty is funded by the sales of Alpha One toys, clothes, and other stuff. They have a huge headquarters.
- Mad Man gets gadgets from Dr. Flem and sometimes... they really are toys.
- After Civil War, Speedball meets the guy who designs the costumes for most super heroes/villains.
- In "Stitch Pitch" in Mad House Comic Digest #5 a specialist tailor waxes lyrical on the problems and headaches involved in making superhero costumes and nothing but. He ends up in tears when an executive asks him for a "normal charcoal-gray business suit," complaining that it's the first order he hasn't been able to fill.
- In Daniel Clowes' Black Nylon, superheroes are able to buy gadgets mail order, with many having to save up to buy one or two gimmick items before getting started in the business. The titular hero funds his exploits with a stipend from the government for his work. Although it's probably public assistance money that the delusional Nylon thinks comes from heroing.
- In The Metabarons, the Metabarons are the inheritors of powers and knowledge from a Cosmic Entity. The Metabarons themselves are often too busy killing stuff to take advantage of what they know but since they are ex-planetary rulers, they have their equipment built to their design by an entire race of servitors and a pair of loyal robots. They are also occasionally gifted rarities like the first horse born in millenia by employers who are the rulers of humanity, interstellar corporations and others of that scale. At one point the last Metabaron, No-Name, has his giant space fortress self-destruct, so his loyal robots just goes about building him another one with a new arsenal included after developing the infrastructure to do so on an isolated planet.
- In the Astro City arc "The Dark Age," the Williams' brothers keep themselves supplied by stealing money and equipment from the various Pyramid bases they've raided.
- Dungeon Keeper Ami: All of the villains, and most of the heroes wonder on a regular basis where Empress Mercury gets all of her awesome equipment and magic from. Where dose she come up with these remote battle drones? The Airships, the Dominate Undead Spell? Attempts to steal/emulate it is the subject of several subplots.
- Kittlemeier in Chris Dee's Cat-Tales is revealed to make everything for both hero and villain alike, and maintains strict rules on appointment times to keep any of them from running into each other. (How Batman became okay with giving business to someone who openly arms his enemies is never really explained).
- Shinra High SOLDIER: Julia has some of the most powerful materia in the world, including maxed out heal/cure materia, all three Bahamuts, and Knights of the Round. No mention is ever made to where she got them.
Films — Animated
- The Incredibles:
- Edna "E" Mode is a genius clothing designer responsible for the costumes of every superhero in the business. She knows the heroes all personally, by real name as well as moniker, and custom-designs their costumes to fit their powers (for example, Violet's suit becomes invisible with her to avoid the problem of an Invisible Streaker in a Disney movie.)
- Syndrome's base on Nomanisan Island was largely financed by weapons deals that he had struck with various world governments. He even planned to sell all of his super gadgets after he had retired.
- The Incredibile was given to Mr. Incredible by the Agency.
- In Megamind, there's actually a "store in Romania" that deals in Supervillain paraphernalia.
- During The Powerpuff Girls Movie, there is a scene where a veritable legion of mutated monkeys start to ape Mojo Jojo's style and unleash a variety of evil plans and doomsday weapons on Townsville, while Mojo stands there dully protesting. While it didn't make it into the final product, according to the DVD commentary, these protests originally included a befuddled "Where are you guys getting all this stuff?!"
Films — Live-Action
- Death Wish 3 had Paul Kersey using all manner of weapons with not a hint of explanation of where he got them or how he afforded them (remember, Kersey worked as a middle class architect, not possessing great wealth, emphasized in the next film in which he sees a mansion and says "This place alone costs more than I could make if I worked for the rest of my life").
- In Death Wish 4: The Crackdown, a man who discovered that Kersey operated as the vigilante agrees to fund his struggle with narcotics dealers and gives him the name of someone to provide him weapons.
- The Damon Wayans Affectionate Parody Blankman has the title hero build super-gadgets out of junk.
- Condorman toys with this trope in a scene where the Big Bad, Krokov, is trying to figure out what the titular hero is doing with a heavily armed racecar/hydrofoil, among other gadgets, and realizes that he's getting the ideas from comic books — that he wrote. This leads to one of the most memorable lines in the entire film (quoted on the film page).
- British taxpayers through MI6's Q Branch (Q standing for 'Quartermaster') in the James Bond franchise. A Running Gag through the movies involves Q getting upset over Bond's frequent destruction of government property during the course of his adventures.
- Kick-Ass apparently got all his gear off of Ebay.
- Big Daddy and Hit Girl bought a working jetpack online.
- In Mystery Men, the heroes decide they are underpowered, so its off to Dr Heller for Canned Tornadoes, a Blame Thrower and the incredible Shrink Ray, which only shrinks clothing.
Mr. Furious (watching the Shrink Ray take effect): My pants feel like they're shrinking too.
- In Mallrats, Jay says this after Silent Bob saves them both with his grappling hook.
- In The Three Musketeers (2011), the Duke of Buckingham visits France in a Cool Airship. King Louis asks why he doesn't have one of those things.
- The Amazing Spider-Man:
- Peter's web-shooters are shown to be made from two wristwatches, with the webbing itself being an Oscorp product called "biocable."
- Pretty much all his villains get their powers, tech, or costumes from Oscorp. The Lizard and Electro were both Oscorp employees who got their powers from experiments there, while the Green Goblin got his armor, glider, venom, and pumpkin bombs from a vault containing a bunch of classified weapons. Even the Rhino is reimagined as a guy in a Mini-Mecha Harry stole for him from the same Oscorp vault.
- X-Men: First Class attempts to do this for the technology seen in the original X-Men trilogy. The underground training facility beneath the Xavier Institute is stated to be a massive, repurposed WW2 bomb shelter, while the Cerebro computer and the prototype Blackbird/X-Jet are both revealed to be projects Hank McCoy designed for the CIA.
- Like the Batman Begins example, Captain America: The Winter Soldier justifies the presence of The Falcon's winged exo-suit by stating that it was developed for the military by Stark Industries. Sam's suit is stated to be the last one in existence, as the others were apparently destroyed during combat in the Middle East.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014): One has to wonder how mutated lab animals who spent years underground managed to find so many ninja weapons. Not to mention the equipment Donatello has, including but not limited to: retinal scanners, thermal goggles, and a wrist-mounted computer with a holographic display.
- Blade is explicitly shown stealing the watch off a vampire familiar's wrist in his first film, and points out that his operation doesn't finance itself. Presumably he just steals from vampires and their human familiars whenever possible. Considering how much silver he goes through, it makes sense.
- The Green Hornet: The protagonist owns the controlling stock in a multi-billion dollar news corporation, and even has the same personality as his alter ego The Hornet. What would throw people off is how freaking advanced his stuff is, as he doesn't own an R&D facility, is too big of a socialite to purchase his gadgets from the black market without everyone watching him, and has no background in mechanics or engineering. Or anything unrelated to screwing interns into screwing him. While yelling his intentions. Instead, Kato builds all of his gadgets by himself.
- Averted in The Executioner series, where Vigilante Man Mack Bolan simply steals the money he needs from The Mafia families he's fighting, much to their fury. His weapons are then bought on the black market or stolen (Bolan always leaves more than enough money to cover the cost behind). A less plausible toy is his "war wagon", a 26-foot GMC motor home equipped with laser-enhanced infrared cameras, electronic surveillance devices, and retractable guided missiles, constructed with the help of moonlighting NASA engineers sympathetic to his cause.
- In the Penetrator novels, also from Pinnacle, Mark Hardin (who had a base as the Penetrator in a borax mine), created or purchased various weapons with the help of a professor. Many of these items received profiles in a back-up section called The Penetrator's Combat Catalog.
- In The Further Adventures of Batman, an anthology of short Batman fiction published in 1989, the story "Neutral Ground" by Mike Resnick describes for the first time Kittlemeier's Shop, run by a little old Jewish tailor who provides the costumes and gadgetry for all of Gotham's heroes and villains. Since then, Kittlemeier's has been spotted in both fan fiction (see above) and canon stories.
- The Spider often relied on Professor Brownlee for technological assistance.
- In the July 2009 novel No Mercy by John Gilstrap, the first in a prospective series, the protagonist, Jonathan Grave, using the codename Scorpion, works as an independent hostage rescuer without sanction of the law. The novel mentions using an auto repair garage used to handling "under the table" repairs". Grave has them fix up bullet holes and other incriminating traces of his missions.
- The Saint and The Domino Lady often "confiscated" funds from criminals who preyed on the public. The Arrow and the Avenger did much the same.
- Wealthy men funded the Hawker and the Expeditor.
- Played with in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, specifically the Rogue and Wraith Squadron novels. One of the Rogues was a officer for Corellian Security; his astromech droid had special programming and hardware used to deal with issues thrown at them. A Wraith, on the other hand, had an "interesting childhood" as the daughter of a Old Republic security officer not even Vader could track down.
- In the Joe Ledger books, Mr. Church has "a friend in the industry". Any industry.
- The Last Superhero has standard shops for superheroes and for villains with incredibly implausible and plot-convenient devices.
- Magical Girl Hunters has The Finn. If The Finn dies, someone else automatically takes over.
- In The Authorities, all the cool gear that the titular investigative team uses is made by Albert, who explains that he has been inspired to make gadgets the very first time he has ever seen a James Bond film... and wanted to be Q. He even mocks being upset and quotes Desmon Llewelyn's character whenever Rutherford ends up accidentally damaging his gear. He is ecstatic when Rutherford finally realizes what he's doing and plays along.
- Make It Sweet!: Tame example here, but for a band whose guitarist can't even afford to buy a new guitar in a pinch, MilkCan sure has some expensive-sounding orchestral and horn arrangements on quite a few of their songs.
- Invoked in the original version of Stern Pinball's Batman pinball game; the player must repeatedly visit the WayneTech mini-playfield and collect eight different weapons to recruit Lucius Fox. Later averted with the discounted "Standard" edition, which removed the mini-playfield.
- Similarly, Sega Pinball's Batman Forever gives a random Bat-gadget if the player shoots the right loop when it is off; collecting several gadgets lights the kickback.
- Who built the Tracy Island base in Thunderbirds?
- There was a handwave provided for how the eponymous Thunderbird vehicles are kept in service; components are bought from a variety of different manufacturers -presumably through various shell companies- and no one part was significant enough to clue someone in as to who and what it was going towards, even when they needed to carry out extensive repairs on Thunderbird 2 after some trigger-happy warship captain tried to blow her out of the sky with surface-to-air missiles.
- Cosmo Kramer, resident Cloud Cuckoo Lander of Seinfeld, has said and been told on numerous occasions that he has no job whatsoever. Yet, somehow, he can afford a hot tub (and generator) the width of a room in a standard New York apartment complex, dozens of expensive-looking suits (and, on one occasion, a leather briefcase), a constant flow of high-grade Cuban cigars, and several tons of junk food.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer / Angel:
- One really must wonder, where does the casts get their giant-ass arsenal of weapons from? Is there a mail-order catalog for all your slicing, impaling and chopping needs?
- In real life, there are several.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer : Early on, most of the weapons/books/equipment the Scooby Gang needed were either from Giles' personal collection, or presumably furnished by the Council of Watchers. For a brief period, she worked with the US government-run Initiative. Later, the weapons/books/equipment the Scooby Gang needed were provided by the Magic Shop run by Giles and/or Anya. Finally, when all else failed, they just stole what they needed: Xander took a rocket launcher from a nearby army base, Buffy and Faith were caught breaking into a sporting goods store trying to steal crossbows, etc.
- MST3K scoffed at the extent of Diabolik's paraphernalia and hideout when they reviewed his film, noting the logistical problems of erecting such a base "You know, it's hard to get contractors to do this kind of work. Signing the complete secrecy agreement on pain of death and all". The print version of Diabolik explained that a criminal combine had raised Diabolik, and that upon reaching adulthood he slew their leader and usurped its resources.
- Parodied in That Mitchell and Webb Look, in which a supervillain hires a contractor to construct his evil lair, including secret revolving walls and trap doors to dispose of troublesome minions. The contractor raises numerous health and safety objections.
- In Good Eats, Alton says this as a Shout-Out, usually as a response to the food scientist or other informational guest of the day brings out (i.e. the Mystery Food Science Theatre 3000 viewing device). He has more than his share of crazy toys though; a drill-powered pepper gun, giant cow models, a possessed refrigerator and a basement that alternately appears as a root cellar, vinegar cellar, pickle cellar and a dungeon torture chamber/equipment lab complete with Igor. For the most part, though, most of his gear (that is actually used for cooking) come from the local hardware store as Brown abhors spending too much money on expensive cooking gadgets good for only a narrow range of projects.
- Lampshaded several times in Drake & Josh with Megan's various gadgets. Not even the parents seem to know where she gets the stuff. Though, she did say at least once "I know a guy."
- Inverted in the spiritual successor iCarly, where Spencer gets all his stuff from his buddy's appropriately named family members: Socko (socks), Tyler (ties), Otto(cars), etc.
- Sometimes you have to wonder how certain civilians/groups manage to get their own morphers, weapons, motorcycles, Zords, etc. to start up a Power Rangers team. Sure, to a certain extent, humans now have access to alien technology, but still...
RJ: I knew this guy who knew this other guy who had an uncle who had a connection — anyway, he tapped into the Morphing Grid, and, voilà. Your morphers.
- Shawn says this almost word for word in Psych when Despereaux escapes with a grapple gun.
- Averted on Mythbusters, where an explanation of how they were able to obtain things like a second-hand cement mixer or an airplane cockpit on the (relatively) cheap often makes up a goodly part of any given episode.
- In the Nintendo GameCube remake of Resident Evil, a set of diary extracts reveals that the architect who designed the mansion was killed by his employers.
- Mercenaries allows the player, via PDA, to purchase everything from jeeps to helicopters to ballistic missile strikes from an online store owned by the Russian Mafia (with free shipping nonetheless). In the sequel, players had to deal directly with representatives of the factions they wanted to purchase from, and airstikes or gear would be delivered by pilots in the player's employ.
- Bobby Ray's Guns and Things in Jagged Alliance 2 will ship fully automatic weapons, disposable rocket launchers and other military hardware to any major airport in the world (although you can only ever use one, you can send them to a second you can access, but the stuff never comes.)
- Just Cause lets the secret agent Player Character call in vehicle drops and extractions from Agency helicopters on his PDA, which is a good thing considering how freaking huge the game world is. Taxpayer money buys all these toys, presumably. You can also increase your standing with Rebel forces and the friendly drug dealing faction to get better guns and more hideouts to extract to.
- In Persona 3, the main characters buy their weapons and armor from Officer Kurosawa in the police station in Paulownia Mall. While the backstory explains that he's a collector of rare antique weapons, this still doesn't explain how he also manages to get his hands on upgrades for Aigis, a secret Shadow-fighting robot developed by the Kirijo Group. It's also implied that he has connections, although it's never stated who exactly these connections are with.
- Tech Romancer features Twinzam V, an Expy of Getter Robo piloted by two Ordinary Elementary School Students. In their own storyline, it seems to be All Just a Dream, but when they appear in the others' storylines, no explanation is given for where these kids got a Super Robot.
- One level of Goldeneye Rogue Agent has the titular character running around a black market showroom of high-tech and extremely expensive goodies for villains to buy and use against the peoples of the free world, including things like nuclear submarines. As an agent of Goldfinger, Goldeneye has access to a virtually unlimited line of credit and can use it to buy several of these wicked toys, though the bossman will eventually call up and complain that he's going to go broke if the spending spree continues.
- Plants vs. Zombies gives you the Bloom and Doom Seed Co. as the provider of your lawn defense plants
- In Splinter Cell Chaos Theory, Sam meets with a colleague in charge of "acquiring" transport and weaponry at each mission briefing.
- How does Sonic the Hedgehog's Dr. Eggman afford all of his building materials? You'd think a villain would just steal the stuff, but he rarely actually gets in trouble with the military and Vector once even commented that "Eggman must be really rich" and wondered if he'd hire them. In Sonic X, he sends Decoe and Bocoe to a hardware store to stock up on supplies. Lots and lots of supplies.
- If the comics are taken as canon (and Sega says they are), then Ivo had mines and production facilities all over Mobius to support his armies. It's reasonable to assume (and explicit in the comics) that Eggman took over these when he arrived. (Virtually) unlimited resources aren't that hard to come by when you run the planet.
- In Sonic Riders, Eggman supposedly has some ownership over a company called "Meteotech" and makes money via selling his robots as security to companies. Plus he does make casinos and circuses, which could be a legitimate venture.
- In the video game of Family Guy Stewie Griffin actually says the trope as a remark to Bertram.
- In Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3, any weapon Shepard acquires (including the antique Lancer and xeno-tech Particle Rifle in the latter game), aside from Heavy Weapons, instantaneously spawns copies for everyone in the party. It's explained that the copies are built in the on-board armory (being able to use them before returning to the Normandy is just an Acceptable Break from Reality), but unlike tech lab upgrades, Shepard never has to pay for extras no matter how esoteric the gun is. The same thing happens with weapon upgrades, grenades, ammo powers and pretty much every other addon; obtain one, and you'll have enough for any situation with no fuss.
- Mass Effect 3:
Garrus: How do I not have one of those?!
- Major Kirrahe (if he survived the first game) decides to demonstrate the grenade-firing Scorpion pistol on Cerberus troops;
- Steve Cortez implies this was the reaction of the Alliance R&D guys after Shepard turned over the Normandy during the interim between the second and third games, quickly rushing to snap up all of the weapons, armour, vehicles and technology that Shepard acquired. Explains where it all went, at least...
- In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies the last witness is an international spy known only as the phantom. Several times during his testimony, he whips out some gadget, and Wright eventually asks this.
(And where can I get myself some?)
- Post-Shadow Moses Incident in Metal Gear Solid, Snake and Otacon with a few other friends created an organization called Philanthropy which has about 5 or 6 people in it. Initially it had funds from some royalties of the best-selling book by Natasha Romanenko, an aging stealth suit, and a tranquilizer gun. That's it. They then added equipment through illegal procurement from the Soldier System Center (SSC) and later on in the series we find out that Otacon and Sunny are able to design bleeding-edge tech by hacking into labs and copying blueprints, before hand-making it aboard their transport plane/homebase, The Nomad. Snake, in his last days, would also be getting supplies from a mysterious arms dealer named Drebin, who in turn got permission and resources from The Patriots.
- Big Boss and his MSF company are hired by a pair of peaceniks with connections to the local Costa Rican government and so the MSF get a defunct oil platform to be their base and a helicopter as initial payment. They then make deals with remnants of the Sandanistas, that fled over from Nicaragua, for troops and info. The MSF would also scout out would-be mercenaries around the world to hire and dragoon captured enemy soldiers and vehicles into joining. With all this manpower, the soldiers with strong technical skills would be assigned to research and build things from C-rations to giant mechs, while others would go do missions for income. Big Boss's later Diamond Dogs company would also do a similar arrangement elsewhere in the world.
- Where the hell do the various police departments in the Need for Speed series get their infinite supplies of Z06 Corvettes to throw at the street racers? You'd think at some point the taxpayer funding would run dry after procuring fleets of $100K sports cars. And, in the same vein, in the games where Cops are playable, where do they even get all the same rare, expensive-as-shit (like the Pagani Zonda Cinque, of which only five were ever made, being somehow available as a police unit) hypercars as the racers?
- In Sluggy Freelance it was originally left unexplained how Riff, a guy with no apparent job, is able to get a hold of the materials for building his ray guns, giant robots, and nuclear reactors. It's eventually explained that Riff was working as a freelance inventor for Hereti Corp, who supplied him with "the biggest, newest toys." Though that still doesn't explain how he happened to have the Book of E-Ville lying around his house.
- Mentioned by name in The Wotch.
- In Sunstone Ally has a staggeringly impressive collection of BDSM toys; including an entire wardrobe of custom made outfits for both of her subs and herself, cuffs, chains, restraints and suspension rigs, a custom made mermaid outfit, the infamous "see-saw," a made to order bed just for sex and last but certainly not least an actual chariot. We are shown that Alan and Chris make a living out of making these things for people and that Ally is really quite well off, but Word of God states that Ally has spent forty grand on this collection.
- Lady Spectra And Sparky have a lighthouse headquarters, a tricked-out Thememobile, and all kinds of advanced laser weaponry...all on Lady Spectra's schoolteacher salary.
- Whateley Universe:
- Phase has incredible amounts of money — especially for a high-schooler. She's paid devisers to build her gadgets, and she's been seen ordering special gizmos from a website for supervillains.
- In Addition to Phase, tons of other characters, especially devisors and Gadgeteers, have all kinds of nifty tech gizmos... most of which they build themselves. Where do they get the money for this? Every single one of them has their own research expenses granted by the school so they can build stuff. it isn't made clear if they are expected to pay it back or not.
- Linkara's got a magic gun, where'd he purchase that?
- His later weapons are outstripping even the gun by a large margin.
- Doctor Steel makes them himself!
- Averted in Sonny Gets Mad Scienced, where the titular main character a minion asks where his Mad Scientist captor funds his base and the mercenary employees.
Nurse: He doesn't say. We talk about it in the break room, and it's either corporate sponsorship, military sponsorship, or he hustles little old ladies out of their pensions.
Sonny: What about credit cards?
Nurse: Like the movies do? Didn't quite think of that.
- Lampshaded by Phong in Reboot when Megabyte returns with an armada out of nowhere:
Phong: Where does he get those ABCs from?
- An episode in the third season of X-Men: Evolution showed the Xavier School mansion being rebuilt by a construction company with the slogan "We keep your secrets."
- Kim Possible:
- Kim gets most of her stuff from her friend Wade, who builds custom-made disguised spy-gear for the Action Girl on the go. Villains, however, buy direct from HenchCo: proud provider of henchmen and henchman accessories owned and operated by classic Corrupt Corporate Executive Jack Hench. There are also trade magazines and conventions for villains, with well-stocked dealer rooms and catalogs. "Wacky Wally's Weather Machines" is the one stop shop for total control of the local climate. Dr. Drakken sends Shego to steal from them all.
- There's also a reality show, Evil Eye for the Villain Guy, an expy/parody of Queer Eye For The Straight Guy.
- The Guild of Calamitous Intent from The Venture Bros. offers logistical and legal support to its members, provided said members obey the rules of the Guild. They also offer super-scientists and heroes deals where they'll provide them with a selection of villains to pick an arch-nemesis from, much like a dating service.
- Danny Phantom where The Hero gets all his Fenton gadgets and doo-dads from his own basement which substitutes as a lab for ghost research. One episode shows his house also possesses a weapons vault, a possible other source for ghost combat goodies.
- The protagonists of Captain Planet and the Planeteers have some really fancy vehicles that not only seem to be several decades ahead of development, but are also 100% eco-friendly, that they don't bother explaining. They are sponsored by Gaia herself so maybe she has a few tricks up her sleeve, but if they have tech like that, why don't they release it to the public and get rid of all those gas-guzzling cars?
- In SWAT Kats, the titular heroes live and work in a junkyard that apparently gets at least some of its stuff from a police organization that actually has the need for advanced jet fighters and tanks.
- Freakazoid! has a fully equipped Freakalair after getting his powers, apparently without any construction work or expenses. It's a cartoon. He can do that. This is lampshaded in the first two appearances of the Freakalair. In the first instance Freakazoid points out that he has it "in this episode" and that they're "testing it out" then, upon its second appearance he explains how they tested out in an early show and it's going to stay.
- Justice League, "Secret Origins": Superman asks Batman if his stockholders know about the newly-commissioned Watchtower, which Batman handwaves with "hidden as a line item in the Space R&D budget." Sure, that hides the funding, but says nothing about assembly either pre-launch or in orbit. (Although with Superman available, Batman at least wouldn't need a launch vehicle — or if Clark had a spare weekend, a construction crew.)
- In Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, the heroes' executive-mandated supercomputer was initially taken for granted. However, by the third season, so many fans had sent letters asking where it had come from that the writers went and wrote an episode surrounding not only the origin of the team itself, but their computer. (As it turned out, it was a gift from Tony Stark.)
- In Ultimate Spider-Man, all of the gadgets and vehicles used by Spidey and his team were designed and provided by S.H.I.E.L.D.. Spider-Man does start off using web-shooters of his own design like in the comics, but switches to more advanced SHIELD-issued models after Nick Fury assures him that the new ones are much more efficient and versatile.
- Gizmoduck from DuckTales is easy enough to explain—he's the bodyguard of the world's richest person. Darkwing Duck from the same 'verse (though with his own show) doesn't seem to have the same setup—he's shown as having many gadgets and gizmos even before the series starts. After breaking a (not the) Fourth Wall he's asked about this, and promptly shushes the inquisitive fan. Darkwing worked on occasion for the government group S.H.U.S.H. a parody of S.H.I.E.L.D. from the Marvel Universe and may have received both his salary and access to technology from there. The continuation comic from BOOM Comics revealed that, yes, S.H.U.S.H. did pay Darkwing and when he gave up crimefighting, things got hard money-wise.
- Inspector Gadget is a wonderful toy.
- Ms. Valerie Frizzle, enough said. Lampshaded by the class at least once, though that's generally about her clothes instead of her wonderful toys.
- Wile E. Coyote has Acme, Inc to supply all his gadgets, but how does he pay for them? Apply MST3K Mantra here.
- Looney Tunes: Back in Action proposes that he works for Acme. He still has to order the products through an Amazon.com-esque website, though, for some reason.
- In one cartoon it turns out the roadrunner is the one shipping them to him, purely for the lulz.
- A Family Guy bit where Peter is working as the store clerk at ACME when Wile E. comes in looking for a refund on a piece of hilariously backfiring equipment. They have a strict "no refund" policy, but offer him store credit instead, implying he just keeps cycling through their catalog in that way
- According to Jon Stewart's Earth (The Book), Acme stays in business, despite faulty merchandise, by providing "free shipping to remote desert locations."
- Phineas and Ferb:
- We see Phineas and Ferb buy their supplies, but what kind of allowance do their parents give them to afford this? (Their mom was a famous pop star once, so if she still has some of that money laying around...)
- Dr. Doofenshmirtz gets most of his money from his ex-wife's alimony, which allows him to finance his evil inventions. (Side note: Artistic license about law aside, Dr. Doofenshmirtz's evil-ness is a Cassandra Truth in The Verse, which is presumably why judges still rule in his favor in alimony hearings.)
- VeggieTales has Batman parody Larry-Boy, whose gadgets were apparently all invented and installed by Alfred (yes that's really his butler's name). Without his knowledge or permission. "I like to tinker in my spare time. I also dabble in biochemistry, nuclear medicine... you know, this and that."
- The penguins in The Penguins of Madagascar have quite a few gadgets and an awful lot of heavy-duty weaponry. While some of it is fairly obviously stolen or constructed by Kowalski, one is still left wondering where they get their dynamite, grenades, and teeny-tiny little pink remote-control cars.
- The Fairly OddParents, has this with the inevitable in-universe Unfortunate Implications in the "Inspection Detention" episode. Specifically, he keeps wishing for items which someone else happens to be stealing, and becomes a suspect. In "The Big Scoop", itself a Perspective Flip Lower-Deck Episode of "A Wish Too Far", Chester and AJ are not fooled by Timmy's excuses for his new stuff and nearly stumble onto his godparents.
- The villain of My Goldfish is Evil is an Evil Genius goldfish in a bowl, so there's no explanation for how he can create hi-tech gadgets beyond "He's really smart."
- Miss Macbeth, the Sadist Teacher villain of INK: Invisible Network of Kids, has a secret lab under the school and can invent all kinds of evil devices, yet when it comes to teaching schoolwork she's a total moron.
- Family Guy's Peter Griffin crashes both a customized "Peter-Copter", with his face on it, and a "Hinden-Peter" blimp, also with face, into his neighbour Joe Swanson's lawn and house respectively in the same episode. After the latter, Joe angrily asks "HOW CAN YOU AFFORD THESE THINGS?!" There's also a Cutaway Gag of Stewie criticizing Batman for expecting the Batcave to stay secret.
Stewie: Look, you can't expect to hire sixty workers to dig a cave under your house and then keep it a secret. I mean, those men live in this town!Batman: Yeah, but I told them it was part of a geological survey.Stewie: Batman, Batman, - they built a Lazy Susan for your nuclear car. That's something they consider conversation-worthy.
- Dexter's Laboratory: Where exactly did Dexter (and no, not that Dexter) get all the stuff for his lab? For that matter, where did Mandark, whose lab is above ground? Well according to FusionFall, they both sell inventions (or at least the patents to their inventions). Then again, Fusion Fall is set about five years after the series.
- In Static Shock, Static's base is an abandoned gas station full of things that his best friend (Who turns out to be a Gadgeteer Genius) made. Where they find the tools for these things, however, is never explained.
- Lampshaded in The Legend of Korra after the bi-planes arrive.
Bolin: Where does Hiroshi find the time to keep inventing new evil machines!?
- Many villains from Totally Spies! seem to have no trouble at all sourcing hidden lairs, superweapons and deathtraps. A repeated example is ordinary students going for revenge and suddenly having access to advanced technology like forcefields and combat vehicles, in one example even building a huge replica of the university.
- To answer Jim Steinman, Chicago likely gets all that meat from Texas, Kansas City and other places around it. Most cattle drives historically ended in Chicago, which around the beginning of the 20th century was the second largest city in the US after New York and remained so until Los Angeles overtook it in the 1980s (hence its nickname "The Second City"), making it the logical place for these ranches to drive their cattle to. Adidas of course has advertising. Not that anyone asked...
- World War II POW's got a lot of stuff needed for both illicit escape attempts and sanctioned activities like theater by pinching items from their captors, supplemented by various items sent from home via YMCA or Red Cross. Through such packages (but using names of bogus charities rather than Red Cross itself), the British also snuck in illegal gear like maps, radio parts, and camera equipment via a wartime intelligence agency called MI9 that sought to use their POWs in Germany as intelligence assets (as well as aiding their escape attempt). Other countries, supposedly, were less willing to flagrantly violate Geneva Convention provisions that allowed certain items to be sent to their POW's via mail for limited gains in intelligence.